30
May
09

Shrieking reaches new heights.

_DeBrito_185x185_565009aAlan Mills, Wimbledon referee from 1982 to 2005, is a man who always believed rules were there for a reason and not to be flouted. Subsequently he saw the increasing trend of female grunters guilty of bringing unnecessary audible pollution to the game he loved while trying to give themselves an unfair advantage over their opponents.

In many ways the term grunt is rather inaccurate. Perhaps the noise emanated by Jimmy Connors could loosely be described in that way but once the females got into the act it became more like a banshee’s wail. First there was Monica Seles racking up the decibels, next Anna Kournikova and then the Williams sisters, while Maria Sharapova made things much louder.

But now the Noise Abatement Society should be aware of Michelle Larcher De Brito, a 16-year-old from Portugal who attacks the eardrums of opponents, officials and spectators with the the kind of shriek that suggests she is having her fingernails torturously ripped out on every single shot. And as if that were not enough, more often than not she celebrates the winning of a point with a shake of the fist directed across the net and a loud yell of “C’monnnnnnnnnnn” that makes Lleyton Hewitt appear positively respectful to his opponent by comparison.

Mills was certain that players from the Nick Bollettieri Academy in Florida were taught to employ noise into their armoury and it’s no coincidence that Seles, Kournikova, Sharapova and now Marcher del Brito were all schooled at the American coach’s Bradenton headquarters.

For reasons that frustrated Mills immensely, no action could be taken against the noisier players unless the opponent complained. And rare were the occasions when any contestant felt the need to appeal to the chair umpire.

Finally somebody has declared enough is enough, and rightly so. Aravane Rezai is a feisty young Frenchwoman of Iranian antecedence who believed that the shrieking had to stop. It didn’t matter that for the most part she had the upper hand against her noisy young opponent and won through 7-6, 6-2. Rezai viewed the cacophony as unnecessary and implored umpire Muhammad el Jenetti to do something about.

“Please, there is a limit, enough,” an angry Rezai shouted before requesting the presence of Grand Slam supervisor Donna Kelso. And good for her because this kind of thing is completely against the bounds of good sportsmanship. In fact, this issue should have been addressed several years ago.

In the event umpire El Jenetti opted against making any ruling but, if the contest had become tighter, tempers would have risen and it would have been difficult for him not to get involved.

“She really shouts loud,” said Rezai. “Maybe it’s the way she tries to impress the opponent, but it really did upset me because it was really unpleasant. She kept shouting and the umpire did not really do his job. She’s only 16 and has a lot of time to learn more but it was a tactic she was using.”

Who can deny that it’s high time the International Tennis Federation, who monitor the rules of tennis, should consult the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and then address this issue? The louder the shrieking, the uglier the game. Please, young Miss Larcher De Brito, before you get much older learn to turn the volume down a little.

Courtesy  The Times.

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